CORE VALUES

Baltimore is poised for growth. Despite the struggles of the recent past, and perhaps because of them, we are in a unique time that is uniting every sector of our business, nonprofit and advocacy community. Offering expertise and partnership, these sectors are eager for the leadership in City Hall that promises a fully engaged partner and a leader that can move government into action.

We cannot reduce poverty and inequality without a growing economy. We can reclaim the parts of our city that have gone far too long without economic inclusion. We can revitalize the requisite infrastructure – transportation, community development corporations, small business development, and partnerships with anchor institutions that will support and ensure our success.  Also, we will restore mixed income communities where businesses and families can thrive.

I am confident that I can bring that leadership to the Office of the Mayor, and that the work we will do together will become a national model for cities striving to redress their history and embrace and include every community and every citizen in a prosperous future.

SMALL BUSINESSES

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. The most important impact of any business upon the community where it is located is not the amount of taxes realized from its operations but, rather, the opportunity for employment provided to community residents, particularly the residents of distressed areas. Businesses that employ the greatest number of local residents are most important to their communities. It is undeniable that in Baltimore unemployment and underemployment is painfully evident in certain areas of the City. True economic development in those areas can only be achieved by providing more better paying jobs to the people that live there. While they are not the largest employers based on the total number of employees, evidence shows that the employment of residents from distressed neighborhoods is proportionately highest in the workforces of black and other minority owned businesses. It is those businesses, then, that must be strengthened if those distressed communities are to achieve economic parity. Baltimore is majority Black, and that means if we are to turn the tide of poverty and hopelessness – we must take care of our Black-owned businesses that play a critical role in transforming our city into a brighter future.

History informs us that government has to be the primer for business development and the creation of jobs. We must lead by example. In my administration preference in government contracting and financial assistance and/or incentives will be given to those businesses that offer the greatest employment opportunities in jobs that offer salaries and benefits at levels that sufficient to support our families. All of our programs and initiatives, including those mandating greater M/WBE participation, will be judged by this standard.

EQUITY

Looking through the lens of shared prosperity means finding ways that growing industries and investment in public-private partnership can benefit low-income residents. Real estate projects receiving public subsidies should deliver economic and social benefits to the neighborhoods in which they are located. Many of Baltimore’s challenges have origins in the economic inequity of our city – a city that is predominately African American but has failed to create sustained avenues for economic inclusion and community wealth building for people of color. For Baltimore this means understanding and confronting the root causes of racial, economic and other disparities – the policies, practices and actions – not just the adverse consequences. This understanding is essential to developing and implementing new policies that redress rather than reproduce inequities.

We must lead by example. In my administration preference in government contracting and financial assistance and/or incentives will be given to those businesses that offer the greatest employment opportunities in jobs that offer salaries and benefits at levels that sufficient to support our families. All of our programs and initiatives, including those mandating greater M/WBE participation, will be judged by this standard.

The principles of this plan are based squarely in the economic theory of community wealth building. There is no escaping the reality of Baltimore’s history and decades of policy that systematically excluded whole communities and generations of black and brown people from the opportunity to build financial stability and wealth for their families. We must now find ways to narrow those disparities and break the cycle of poverty that disproportionately affects these individuals and families.

REFORMS

Doing Business with Baltimore City.  We must reform the system for the award of contracts and the resolution of contract claims to provide for due process and transparency; the Board of Estimates is not a tribunal. We need an open, predictable and fair process for determining the relevant facts. The Board of Estimates should not make decisions on contract award disputes based on undocumented contacts with bidders or their representatives. We need to take the politics out of city contracting. Similarly, city employees should not be awarded for withholding payments rightfully due contractors as a means of saving money or meeting budget timetables. This fiscal shortsightedness results in fewer companies competing for city business and higher prices from those that do. Changing the way we do business and the culture of how we operate. That be accomplished by simply adjusting the number of members of the Board or adjusting how votes are counted. I will appoint a procurement advisor to the Board of Estimates to whom city agencies will present and support their recommendations for contract award, before they are presented to the Board. To ensure public confidence, the vote of at least one non -mayoral Board member would be needed to remove the Procurement Advisor. I will also legislation to create a Board of Appeals to hear bid disputes and resolve contract claims. We must take the politics out of city contracting and put fairness and equity into how contracts are administered.

BLACK BUSINESSES

A Dixon administration would understand that a key to healing Baltimore is having a healthy and strong Black-owned business community. The truth is, I want Baltimore to be a national model for Black Business. From the beauty salons to the barbershops to our cleaners, tailors, accountants, lawyers, funeral homes, construction companies and our incredible selection of Black restaurants—these businesses are most likely to hire Black people in Baltimore. Hence, we have developed a plan to help better position Black businesses to grow stronger, to improve their credit worthiness, and to increase their access to capital and contracts.

  • Establishing a Black Business Czar who will work in tandem with the City’s MBE Office, but will have a specific task of coordinating Baltimore’s Black owned businesses and their respective trade associations and related organizations. The Czar will handle reporting for all City agencies. Each month, we need to see progress reports on what Black businesses have gotten contracts with the City of Baltimore. The Czar will coordinate Black Business efforts with other cities with strong Black populations, beginning in the region with Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Philadelphia and New York. Also, the Czar will also actively strive to bring national Black business events to Baltimore.
  • Strengthening/building Black incubators, including the Small Business Resource Center. We need a mechanism put in place to provide Black owned businesses with back office support. If you run a small business, you know that it is one thing to do the actual work, but then there is the accounting, the taxes, the licenses and insurance. Businesses need the necessary technical support that can quell their invoicing or sales report needs, for example, so that they can better focus on what they do best.
  • Better coordinating relationships and partnerships with Baltimore’s academic institutions, including Baltimore City Community College, such that these businesses can sharpen up on their skills and learn some new ones. Johns Hopkins, UB, the University of Maryland, Loyola, Morgan, Coppin, Towson – we are blessed with some of the finest institutions in the nation and it is high time we better utilize their expertise to help strengthen our business owners and their employees.
  • Credit Worthiness and Bonding. Ask any Black contractor and they will tell you that it is often quite difficult to either get a line of credit or to extend one’s line of credit. However, we can create through legislation and other opportunities that help our subcontractors grow their own credit lines. This way, down the road – they can begin to bid on larger projects. Typically, the primes benefit. We need to find a way to help our subs become more empowered with a growing line of credit. It definitely makes a difference. The same goes for bonding. Yes, we want our business owners to develop their credit worthiness, but we also want their businesses to grow, too. Hence, we need to create an environment where subs can grow their businesses’ financial health and their capacity.
  • Youth Entrepreneurship. Baltimore’s youth are some of the most creative young people found anywhere in the world. As we help build our Black businesses, we cannot forget to also have a youth component. It is important to foster an environment for youth to learn business practices and financial literacy and introducing them to skills related to management and leadership.

EDUCATION

Computer science is driving job growth, with more than half of projected STEM jobs to be in computer science related occupations. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, computing is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country and will pay substantially above the national ‎median annual salary. In the first quarter of 2013, there were more job postings for computer and mathematical science occupations than any other trade. Right now, large segments of our population are not participating in the STEM economy, and yet, ‎computer science education is largely missing from City and State K-12 curriculums, particularly among under-represented populations. In Baltimore, we must work with the State to provide clear pathways for people ‎to become computer science teachers or create teaching and testing standards. Computer science must be more than an elective or after-school program. It must be an integrated part of our students’ required coursework. We need to do a better job of connecting schools to employers. The Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Corporate Internship Program (CIP) is a model we should consider expanding. CIP places students in entry-level jobs at businesses and non-profits throughout the Baltimore area. Public school students can apply the income they earn to college tuition or an apprenticeship trade.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

We need to invest in workforce development now. We will triple our city’s investment in workforce training in order to serve residents with and without high school degrees. Through a competitive grant program for workforce providers, we will award employers that have a proven track record of connecting underemployed adults, youth and ex-offenders with the skills they need to get good paying jobs. Grant programs like these help these providers create new jobs and support a more skilled workforce. In addition, we will increase support to non-government service providers offering education, life skills, literacy, training, industry-recognized credentials, and family support networks. Industry led partnerships for workforce training have proven the most successful across the country and we will seek more opportunities to partner closely with several business sectors to identify job opportunities that offer clear career paths and create the training partnerships that will help meet employer and employee needs.

We will reach out to more young people, adults and returning citizens by investing in programs that address career readiness, and we will connect program participants to career pathways in healthcare, green technologies and biotechnology. We will also charge our agencies with leading the collaborative effort to combine our resources and services, but also solicit partners from the private sector in order to achieve greater outcomes. Financial literacy should be a priority and should teach participants’ things such as how to open a savings account, balance a checkbook, and enroll in direct deposit.

For thousands of unemployed and underemployed, middle-skill STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and math) represent a significant opportunity to gain skills and earn an income great enough to support a family. According to a report by the Associated Black Charities and the Greater Baltimore Committee, more than 40 percent of the STEM jobs in Baltimore require middle-skills and earn, on average, close to $59,000 a year.

As public and private unions have come under attack across the nation, labor organizations in Baltimore that help facilitate job training and employment opportunities for community residents will have a partner in City Hall. By working with union leaders to promote membership in our city’s largest institutions, we will provide another channel for working people to fight for incomes that can sustain a family.

Baltimore City businesses, small and large, for-profit and nonprofit, are the primary and most important sources of employment opportunities for Baltimore residents. Therefore, we must make the retention and growth of those businesses, already here in our City, central to our economic development and inclusion efforts. When attracting new businesses, the Baltimore Development Corporation should focus its limited financial and staffing resources on those industries in Baltimore that promise growth and offer the best chance of producing living wage careers for city residents at all skill levels.

At the same time, we know that start-up businesses, many tied to research institutions, are a primary source of job growth throughout the country. We can cultivate an entrepreneurial culture in Baltimore that supports our current residents, retains our university graduates and attracts new entrepreneurs to Baltimore.

In connection with shared prosperity and a strategy to focus on target industries, we should look for opportunities to increase the number and capacity of Minority and Women Business Enterprises as a critical ingredient to empowering and employing African American residents. Local, minority and women-owned businesses are more likely to hire locally, particularly within their neighborhoods.

They offer pathways to employment with fewer barriers. It follows that supporting their growth increases economic opportunities for City residents and should be priority.

Our city is strongest when we are inclusive in the way we run business. That’s why across the city, institutions and businesses are following Baltimore City government in increasing the amount of business they give to minority, women and locally owned enterprises, which are more likely to employ people in low-income communities. From government contracts to tax credits and seed capital, we will support entrepreneurship in underserved communities. The City can lead by example as a large institution with purchasing power by removing barriers to small business participation and increasing access to opportunities.

  • Merge the Minority and Women’s Business Opportunity Office and Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development to Connect Procurement and Support Services. Use shared data and systems to not only identify minority business opportunities, but also provide the network, services and support minority businesses need in order to seize those
  • Expand Access to City Contracts with Alternative Security Instruments. Identify and employ alternative forms of security beyond the exclusive use of surety bonds to enable smaller businesses to compete for city
  • Create an Independent Review Board of Bid Protests. Explore setting up a separate independent body to review bid protests and other claims related to minority and women owned businesses, allowing for more openness and
  • Require Firms with City Contracts of More than $5 million to Report on M/WBE Participation. Require firms with city contracts in excess of $5 million annually to report on their use of certified women and minority owned businesses in their public contracts other than those with
  • Bring Housing Authority of Baltimore Procurement Under the Board of M/WBE participation in Housing Authority procurement should be brought under the review authority of the Board of Estimates, similar to the deference shown by the City to the State when City contracts are funded in whole or in part with State funds.

o        More Competitive by Rebuilding Freight and Passenger Rail Infrastructure.   Growth at the Port of Baltimore has increased significantly over the past decade, and has resulted in a growing industrial and logistics economy and created more jobs for City residents. Baltimore can take important steps to support continued growth and protect neighborhoods and communities that are adjacent to the Port. Ironically, the number of black workers as a percentage of the total workforce has fallen. We need to find out why and fix the problem. Employment in the port is one of the few remaining jobs from the post industrial era.

We will work with the State and Federal governments to finally make the major investments in Baltimore’s freight infrastructure, which is necessary in order to eliminate critical bottlenecks that frustrate passenger and freight traffic moving through Baltimore. To keep our port on the cutting edge, the City will need to be a good partner in creating the environment that is necessary to replace the B&P tunnels, opened in 1873, and the Howard Street Tunnel. A new rail-to-truck intermodal terminal must also be built.

These multi-billion dollar projects are not Baltimore’s responsibility in the legal sense, but the only responsible course for public safety and economic development is for Baltimore to be the major advocate and facilitator for these projects. Doing so will require hard choices, and by asking neighbors to help manage the impacts, and work with the business community to focus on and support projects that we know can work and meet the needs of industry.

An unfortunate consequence of growth is heavy truck traffic that disrupts communities and damages local roadways. As Mayor, I will ask the General Assembly to create a Community Benefit Fund for port-adjacent communities. Through this fund, the State and City would each deposit $1 per shipping container or piece of heavy equipment leaving the Port (approximately $1.5 million per year). Those funds will be used for community improvement projects in neighborhoods in the Maritime Industrial Zoning Overlay District (MIZOD). This fund is similar to one created by the State for communities within the noise impact zone of BWI Airport.

o        Hospitality and Tourism Industry with Shared Prosperity Opportunities.  According to Visit Baltimore, the hospitality and tourism industry generates more than 80,000 jobs worth $2.5 billion in personal income. The $5.5 billion spent by visitors to Baltimore supports our hotels, restaurants, and cultural facilities and generates more than $266 million in local taxes.

The hospitality and tourism industry draws visitors and investment to our small business and entrepreneurial economy and offers revenue that can be invested in programs creating career pathways for lower income residents.

Increased hotel room tax receipts, generation of more business for local entrepreneurs, job creation for managers, entry-level workers and others, and enlivening our streetscapes are all reasons to pursue these investment opportunities. We will work with policymakers in Annapolis to explore public-private partnership models that have worked in other cities.

  • Undertake Cost-Benefit Analysis to Expand the Baltimore Convention Center. When the Convention Center was first expanded, it was the 15th largest in the Today there are more than 80 convention centers that are larger. The inability of our current convention facility to host two large-scale events at one time is a significant drawback and inhibits our ability to compete with other cities for convention business. We should undertake a cost benefit analysis, with an emphasis on the opportunities for the increased prosperity, which would support the expansion of the Convention Center.
  • Explore Public-Private Partnership to Expand the Baltimore Arena. We should explore public-private partnership models to replace the Baltimore Arena. While the existing arena management team does a good job attracting events to an outdated facility, we cannot compete with 1st tier entertainment venues in other cities. We must have an arena that offers modern and attractive amenities that will attract 1st tier.

REBUIDLING NEIGHBORHOODS

Neighborhoods have always defined Baltimore as a City, and each of us have been shaped in so many ways by our neighborhoods. Redlining and systemic disinvestment in certain communities of our City have taken their toll on once strong and vibrant neighborhoods. Too often substandard education, widespread unemployment and even health and life expectancy can be determined simply by your address. That must change.

My administration will filter their actions through an economic inclusion lens, asking if a given project will strengthen one or more neighborhoods, create job opportunities for local residents, and increase the quality of life and long-term prosperity of surrounding communities.

Entrepreneurship and Technology

A recent Brookings Institute report emphasized a continuing trend of technology workers and entrepreneurs choosing walkable neighborhoods, often near universities, where they can engage with colleagues and share ideas. In cities across the country, the operators of innovation centers, business incubators, accelerators, and shared space facilities are choosing locations in the heart of historic commercial/residential neighborhoods instead of downtown business districts. These new business centers are dynamic spaces in mixed-use properties, generating a dynamic hub of creativity and connectivity, where the work experience is complimented by weekend, evening and neighborhood events.

This trend, coupled with the work that Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, Morgan State University and other institutions have been doing to commercialize technological advancements, will create opportunities for decades to come and provide rich prospects for Baltimore neighborhoods including apprenticeships, tech career training and employment opportunities for residents.

Community Investments

  • Designate Innovation Districts to Drive Neighborhood Investment and Our universities are using their intellectual property to boost research and spur innovative start- ups. With the support from their universities, inventors and entrepreneurs are starting companies and hiring workers. Our challenge is to join the technology community in creating the ecosystem to keep these fast-growing businesses in Baltimore. The opportunity exists to create jobs and attract new investment, using tools like the State’s RISE zones, in neighborhoods that abut research institutions generating bulk technology. We will create innovation districts in connection with research institutions and/or business-led technology funds. These districts will be boosted by a local and State created package of incentives and benefits for entrepreneurs and for the small businesses that contribute the amenities that are equally important to the Innovation District experience.

o        Support Existing Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Foster the Creation of New Ones.  Allocate a $4 million Community Development Block Grant and city bond funds over three years to create a challenge grant program, engaging the foundations most involved in neighborhood revitalization, to support and expand CDCs in Baltimore. For its size, Baltimore City is underserved by nonprofit, community-based organizations focused on the neighborhood revitalization of low-income neighborhoods that have experienced significant disinvestment. The most effective CDCs, such as Southeast, Druid Heights, Mt. Royal and Greektown, provide neighborhoods with redevelopment expertise, access to capital and relentless advocacy. A CDC’s work to enhance community conditions oftentimes involves neighborhood organizing, a critical ingredient for empowering residents and developing community leadership capacity.

o        Revive the Historic Main Streets Program.  The Historic Main Streets program, expanded under my tenure and currently housed in the Mayor’s Office, is underfunded and understaffed. The most successful Main Streets should graduate from the program freeing up resources to designate new commercial corridors with the potential for revival such as Baltimore Street west of the University of Maryland Biopark and North Avenue west of Coppin State University – both anchored by higher education institutions. This program will also be returned back to the BDC rather than housed in the Mayor’s office in order to effectively fulfill its original purpose of aggressive community development.

o        Stop the Spread of Blight with Intervention Buying.  Blight must be stopped at its root – it can start with one or two vacant properties along a main street or in the middle of the neighborhood. We will allocate $4 million of already budgeted capital funds to reinstitute “intervention buying” to stem the spread of blight. Intervention buying has benefitted Pigtown, Station North and Lauraville, and could be employed in neighborhoods like Liberty Heights and Garrison with their large wood frame homes.

Re-entry

For individuals who were formerly incarcerated, access to economic stability dramatically reduces the likelihood to re-offend and will successfully re-integrate them into a society where they can earn a living and provide for their families. Specific programs tasked with providing resources to this population is integral in strengthening not only our neighborhoods over time, but also the structure of our families. To address this, my administration will:

  • Expand access to Certificate of Qualification for Employment Programs and integrate them into re-entry programs so that individuals are released with certifications in a workforce trade or skill
  • Highlight and directly fund non-profits who demonstrate proficiency in successful transitional employment programs

Vacant and Abandoned Property

  • Create a Land Bank and Expand Abandoned properties cost all of us money – depleting the property values of adjacent and nearby homeowners, absorbing an unfair share of City taxpayer funded services and reducing safety and quality of life in affected neighborhoods. According to a study by Temple University of vacant properties in Philadelphia, abandoned housing on a block can reduce the value of all other properties by an average of $6,720. Among other things, the reduced value prevents other homeowners from building wealth. More directly, a city’s failure to collect even a small percentage of delinquent property taxes due to abandonment can result in billions of lost revenues.

The city’s Vacant to Values program has made it possible for developers to assemble vacant public and private property for development in neighborhoods with underlying market strength, but the program is not structured to change the physical landscape in our poorest and most disinvested neighborhoods and cannot substitute for a neighborhood revitalization strategy.

We will work with stakeholders such as the City Comptroller and, more recently, the Maryland Stadium Authority to construct a land bank that speeds up the process of converting abandoned properties to more productive uses, better maintains properties, accelerates demolition, raises outside money, and promotes affordable housing and expands green space. In recent years Baltimore has aggressively utilized its Receivership Program to acquire the right to sell residential and commercial properties in the city for redevelopment. Unfortunately, this program has been permitted to operate with little oversight or transparency. To that end, the opportunity to serve as the “City Receiver” must be opened to competitive bidding

o        Pilot a Relationship Between the Land Bank and a Community Land Trust (CLT).  The Land Bank will pilot a relationship with a community land trust (CLT). The CLT builds and sells housing to low- and moderate-income homeowners but retains the underlying deed to preserve affordability. CLT is one of many strategies that we will use to create permanently affordable housing. CLTs are particularly effective in communities facing gentrification. A CLT retains ownership of the land while the homeowner retains ownership of the home. CLTs may place resale restrictions on a home to ensure long-term affordability while enabling the homeowner to maintain equity.

Transportation

We will work with transportation stakeholders to further define this vision and translate it into a series of initiatives to achieve the following measurable outcomes:

o        Restore “Operation Orange Cone” to Resurface 1,000 Lane Miles in Four Years.  We will redeploy resources within the Department of Transportation and adopt new practices and technologies to increase neighborhood street resurfacing. Freshly paved neighborhood streets are an investment in our communities and help make neighborhoods more attractive to new homeowners.

o        Implement a Fair and Effective Transportation System.  Owning a car in Baltimore should not be a prerequisite to having a good job or living in a good neighborhood. Baltimore’s streets are for the use of all – not just automobile traffic and on-street parking. In some years, Baltimore has had more traffic, which resulted in more pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities than fire-related deaths. We must treat transportation as a public safety priority, as well as an opportunity to strengthen communities – seeking their input on how their streets are used and to participate in public sector decisions that create a balanced, safe and sustainable transportation system.

o        Solutions for East-West Travel through the City.  The cancellation of the Red Line was devastating to Baltimore’s transportation future, but we must move forward. My administration will work with Governor Hogan’s transportation team to shape, improve and implement the B-Link system. We will find opportunities for bus signal priority at intersections and create bus lanes as necessary. But let us be clear: running a safe, efficient, reliable and well-connected bus system has been the job of MTA since 1970. B-Link is not a substitute for a rail transit system like those in every other major City and metropolitan area in America.

o        Strengthen the Charm City Circulator.  My priority is to maintain and strengthen the Circulator in the context of its initial vision.  Specifically, my goal is to restore 10-minute headways and ensure that service quality meets the high standard we set when service began.  Likewise, we should maintain the Harbor Connector basically in its present form – serving quick, cross-harbor trips.   Approximately 85% of the City’s parking tax revenue is generated within the original service area of the Circulator (roughly from MLK Blvd to Central Avenue and from North Avenue to Key Highway). The business and tourism community – and even some parking operators – came together to support a restructuring of and modest increase to the parking tax to provide a stable, ongoing source of revenue for the Circulator.  We knew when conceiving the Circulator that the parking tax would never secure 100% of the Circulator budget but believed that meeting approximately 70% with parking tax revenues would be a solid financial basis upon which to build.  Moving forward, to stabilize and maintain the Circulator, we should move to close gradually the “free parking” loophole where the cost of parking spaces is built into office and residential leases and no parking taxes are paid.

Universities and Hospitals – Anchor Institutions

Our anchor institutions, universities and hospitals, rooted in place by mission and business models, have been sustaining economic engines through the City’s lean years and will be critical partners in a more inclusive future for all Baltimoreans. Nine of Baltimore City’s ten largest employers are “eds and meds,” and account for three in ten direct jobs. They are unique investors with unmatched economic power to drive improved community outcomes.

In recent years, Baltimore’s anchor institutions and the communities in which they reside have come together recognizing the fates that both are deeply intertwined. Anchor institutions are realizing the mutual benefits of leveraging their resources to create jobs and revitalize their neighborhoods. As a result, anchors and communities have become allies and advocates for their shared interests in better schools, safer streets and affordable housing.

o        Align City Resources and Investments to Encourage Anchor Institutions to Revitalize Neighborhoods.  We will enter into agreements with our anchors that meet a high bar for creating and implementing comprehensive community-based revitalization strategies, expanding their local and M/WBE purchasing, adding meaningful contracting goals, hiring from and investing in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods, supporting neighborhood schools, providing incentives for their employees to live in Baltimore and returning properties to the tax rolls. In consideration of their off-campus investments that directly and indirectly benefit neighborhood residents and businesses, the City will participate in joint planning, align infrastructure and other resources, streamline city permitting, and seek outside funding to support our “high bar” anchor investors.

o        Work with Anchor Institutions to Create Incentives to Keep Undergraduate and Graduate Students in Baltimore.  By far, the best long-term approach to retaining college graduates – minimizing the Brain Drain – are strategies that promote career growth in higher wage target industries, and lower cost housing with better amenities. In the shorter term, we should encourage universities to expand civic engagement and community service. Both have been shown to increase student retention and enhance student awareness of the career and graduate education opportunities that exist outside of the college “bubble.” Businesses can provide job mentors for college seniors. As Mayor, I will explore partial loan forgiveness or repayment assistance for graduates who work for city government and live in the city.

Reforming Developer Tax Breaks

For decades, community activists and others have complained of a focus on downtown development to the exclusion of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. While I would urge us all to recognize the critical importance of a strong city core, I also believe that City development policies cannot ignore our other neighborhoods.

Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves some tough questions and make some hard decisions to create an economic development strategy that invests in neighborhoods AND downtown. We must elevate the importance of quality of life investments including transportation, recreation and community centers, entertainment venues, community friendly police and other city service facilities. Our strategies must prioritize the critical need to connect our residents, and especially our youth, to jobs.

Strategic investment to expand employment hubs and complimentary development will continue to be important for the 35% to 40% of people who work in our major employment centers and choose to live in the city – stabilizing home values, growing the tax base and supporting main street businesses.

Government of the People

Government cannot replace the private sector jobs lost in Baltimore since 1990, but it can organize itself to align with the shared economic development priorities of the nonprofit, business and institutional sectors. I will provide that organizational support and push us to realize our untapped potential to engage citizens, especially our young people, in the future of our City. A culture of customer service must be a core part of City business operations and driven from the top down. There is no reason we should expect or accept anything less from government.

Baltimore City government is a service delivery business competing for residents and employers. Providing outstanding customer service along with increased transparency is as important as paving roads and picking up the trash. You will always hear me say that it is important to first recognize and honor the extraordinary contributions our current city employees make every day. Although the size of Baltimore’s workforce continues to shrink, its obligation to fill potholes throughout the city and board up vacant homes has not diminished.

I hold myself accountable along with everyone at every level within every agency of the city to uplift the economic priorities of the city. As I have done in the past with trash, recycling and other services, I will bring our customers and frontline employees, unions and managers together to define the customer experience we want in a given service area. With customer and employee input, we will develop training and standards of accountability to which newly empowered front-line employees will meet and even exceed expectations. We must work to build a city that works for all of its people regardless of their zip code, socio-economic status, race, educational background, gender, sexual orientation, criminal history, or any other exclusionary determinate.

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